Syracuse Teachers Association to Host In-Person Return of Learning Focus Groups


A girl wears a face mask as students sit in a classroom at Petri Primary School in Dortmund, western Germany, June 15, 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic COVID-19 . (Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – As cases of COVID-19 decline and vaccination efforts intensify, the pressure for schools to begin in-person learning 5 days a week is also mounting.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said there is now strong evidence that in-person schooling can be done safely, especially at lower levels. On February 12, the CDC released its guidelines for reopening schools, highlighting 5 mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

These strategies included the mandatory and appropriate use of face masks and maintaining 6 feet of distance between people.

Maintaining social distancing in classrooms has proven to be a challenge for some schools, which is part of why the blended learning model has been used in the districts of central New York City.

Onondaga County Director Ryan McMahon said the health department looked at the data to see if reducing the distance to just 3 feet still stops the spread of the disease.

In a statement released Thursday, the Syracuse Teachers Association (STA) said in part, “While we all want students to come back for in-person learning, there are many health and safety issues and issues, as well as challenges. Logistical issues noted by members that will need to be addressed in order to ensure a safe return.

The STA says it will be holding focus groups next week to identify specific teachers’ concerns regarding the return of in-person learning and share those concerns with the Syracuse City School District Superintendent, department heads and the school council.

The report also states that the vaccination of teachers is important, but not mandatory for reopening. According to McMahon, the participation of teachers in Onondaga County to get the vaccine has been excellent.

The STA statement can be read in full below.

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